Bacon Corn Chowder

As a town kid turned farm wife, I’ve had my eyes opened to many things. I’ve learned what it’s like to have a chicken jump on your shoulder. I’ve learned how to bottle feed a calf. Perhaps most shocking to my town kid sensibilities, I’ve learned what it’s like to unleash bulls into the pasture during breeding season (and let me tell you, they need a few lessons in the romance department).

And this winter, which is our first winter living on the farm, I learned how terribly, dreadfully cold it can get for a farmer raising cows in sub-zero weather.

I thought I knew what cold was. After all, I was raised in South Dakota. I’m no stranger to snow and sleet. But it wasn’t until this month, as I watched Dan plunge his bare hands in frozen water to break up the ice in the cattle water tank on the coldest days of the year, and drive through snow and wind on his four-wheeler to check his cows, that I really started to learn that I have no idea how cold a South Dakota winter can really be.

All I can say is, God bless our South Dakota farmers and ranchers!

Because I’m really no help around cows (they terrify me) and I’ve got a full-time job in town, I’ve had to figure out other ways to contribute to our farming partnership. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Dan was just as happy with a hot meal as having me help bring in cows (like I said, I’m really not much help!)

There’s nothing quite like a bowl of hot soup to warm someone up instantly, so I headed to my mother-in-law Mary for one of her favorite recipes- bacon corn chowder.  It’s country cooking at its finest— a simple one-pot wonder that is thick, creamy and full of flavor – and perfect for frigid South Dakota winters. We used homemade frozen sweet corn from this summer, which added a sweet, buttery flavor to the soup. To serve, garnish with extra bacon, cheese and green onion, and add a hot sandwich or hunk of hearty bread for a complete meal.

Whether you spend this winter outside with the cows or inside by the fire, this bacon corn chowder is the perfect way to escape the freezing temperatures. And next time you see a local family farmer or rancher, don’t forget to say thanks for all of their important, hard work!

Bacon Corn Chowder

4 bacon strips
1 c. chopped onion
2 c. water
1 ½ c. diced peeled potatoes
1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
¼ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. milk, divided
1 c. half-and-half cream
1 package (16 oz.) frozen corn
8 oz. processed American cheese, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon; crumble and set aside. In the drippings, sauté onion until tender. Add water, potatoes and bouillon; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender. In a small bowl, combine flour and ¼ cup milk until smooth. Add flour mixture, cream, corn and remaining milk to soup; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; add cheese and bacon. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with leftover bacon and green onions, if desired. Yield: 6-8 servings (about 2 quarts).

Source: Modified slightly from The Best of Country Cooking, 2001.